Tuesday, 26 July 2016

How Matched Play works

The General'a Handbook has been released for Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and there are a lot of questions on Matched Play at the moment. With this post I aim to clear up the processes of writing your army list and rules changes. Everything here is extrapolated from the General's Handbook


BEFORE GAME

1.
Agree on any house rules. 
• Campaign System
• Base to base measuring. 
• Army selection. 
• Scenery. 

2.
Decide game type with opponent. 
• Vanguard 1000 points
• Battlehost 2000 points
• Warhost 2500 points
• Points-only Game

3.
Pick units for your army up to the game type limit, all must belong to the same Grand Alliance.
• Select Warscroll Battalions as desired. 
• Meet minimum Battleline and leader requirements. 
• Do not exceed Behemoth and Artillery limits. 
• Pay for multiples of the minimum size unit, below strength units are rounded up. 
• Decide reinforcement points and note any leftover points. 

4.
Determine Army Allegiance. You may choose a Grand Alliance Allegiance even if you have selected your army under a Faction Allegiance to unlock Battleline units. 
• Choose Army General. 
• Note Battle Trait. 
• Select Command Trait. 
• Select one Artefact (additional one per Warscroll Battalion) and assign max of one to each hero. 
• Note all details on army roster. 

5.
The Player with the most leftover points rolls for a Triumph. 

6.
Roll for Matched Play Battleplan. 

DURING GAME

7.
Use reinforcement points to add new units to the game. 
• Any new unit which is to be added must be paid for with reinforcement points. 
• If the spell or ability has a random number of models you roll to determine the maximum amount you can deploy before you spend the points. 
• You may deploy less than the amount rolled if desired or if you do not have enough reinforcement points. 
• Reinforcement Points costs are rounded up for units smaller than the minimum unit size. 

8.
Models added to existing units during the game via abilities or spell do not use reinforcement points however the unit cannot go above its original starting size. 

9.
Monsters do not get the save modifier from cover. 

10.
Three rules of one. 
• Each spell can only be attempted once per turn. 
• Rolls of one to hit/wound/save always fail. 
• Abilities generating extra attacks only do so once. 

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Summoning in Matched Play

With the new Matched Play rules for reinforcements there will be a meta change in how summoners are used. Unlike the mostly used SCGT where you get extra points if you summon, Matched Play uses a system where you hold points from your main list back to later deploy however you can, whether that's summoning or an ability that creates a new unit. 

Reinforcement points aren't assigned in the list building phase. What this means is that you can have an allegiance list of 1500 points to one faction and save 500 points to reinforce with new units from separate factions if desired. 

The main difference between the types is that summoning requires you to successfully cast a spell then you can deploy a new unit within range, abilities tend to require an easy roll or no roll at all and then units enter the game by some method (from a board edge or Realmgate).  

Both have their uses within the game, the ability based reinforcements are more reliable, but less tactical. Whereas the summoning based reinforcements are less reliable, but more versatile. 


Here are some alternate tactical uses for reinforcements rather than just getting more bodies on the ground:

• A Unit is protected from damage until deployed to the battlefield. Although if all your reinforcers are killed you lose the unspent points. 

• Use reinforcement points to react to the current tactical situation rather than playing all your cards early. You can deploy either an anvil unit or a hammer unit depending on what you need after a few turns. 

• Deploy a unit on to objective at critical moment. This can literally be he difference between a win or loss. Most Pitched Battleplans only require five models nearby to claim an objective. 

• Deploy a small unit to act as a blocker or chaff. Death excel at this with their availability of cheap units like zombies. 

• Deploy slow units at long range to get behind enemy lines quicker. Slow moving Fyreslayers can use Magmic Tunneling to get a unit behind the enemy lines. 


Using reinforcements has to be done carefully or you risk throwing away valuable points and putting yourself at a disadvantage. To ensure this doesn't happen use the following tips:

• Take at least one unit which reinforces with an ability easily or automatically, even if it's not as useful as the summon able ones, this is your back up if your spells don't succeed. 

• Don't just rely on a single wizard to summon units as you can only attempt each spell once per turn. I would suggest a minimum of three separate reinforcers for redundancy. 

• Have a wide variety of summon able units, plenty of easy summons such as zombies and only one or two hard summons like Bloodthirsters. 

• Only use reinforcement points if you really need too. Don't do it just for the sake of it, have a plan. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Skirmish Play in Age of Sigmar

Games Workshop have released rules for skirmish play using the Warhammer: Age Of Sigmar rule set. This allows you to play with a small selection of individual model instead of units, somewhat reminiscent of Mordheim. 

All rules in this post are extracted from the official Warhammer World events pack which can be found here: http://warhammerworld.games-workshop.com/warhammer-age-of-sigmar-gaming-events/


SKIRMISH PLAY 
The rules we will use to select our Regiments and play the games on the day are a unique blend of Matched, Open and Narrative Play. To make things easier to understand, we will refer to it as Skirmish Play. 

There are a few changes to how the game works in Skirmish Play: 

The Rule of Lordship: In Skirmish Play neither side has a General, and therefore does not have any Command Abilities, nor do Command Abilities work. These mighty skills and magical talents have great use in the field of pitched battles and mighty wars, but are less useful and overly powerful in much smaller battles. 

The Rule of Heroism: In Skirmish Play, all models are treated as individual units (ie. They move around and fight by themselves). It’s all about the unlikely heroes rather than large groups. 

The Rule of Sorcery: Wizards are rarely willing to pitch around in the mud after a battle, or be sent scouting to 
find enemy fortresses. Spells of any kind have no effect in Skirmish Play. 

The Rule of Terrain: In Skirmish Play the Mysterious Scenery rules are not in use and all games are played on a 4x4 table. 

The Rule of Carnage: In Skirmish Play, where models can end up fighting one-on-one a lot, a modifed version of Battleshock is in use. A test is taken when a model loses a Wound. When taking a Battleshock test, count the number of Wounds lost rather than models slain when making Battleshock tests. 


In order to take part in Regiment of Renown, you will need to choose a band of unlikely heroes to send out on a series of deadly and daring tasks. These warriors can be selected using the rules below and will form your Regiment. Note that while the full rules for how to select your Regiment are listed here, but you will need the General’s Handbook for a full set of points values and Faction lists. 

• Your Regiment must be chosen from a single Faction. 


• You may field individual models from the available 
Warscrolls, rather than full units (see below). 


• Your Regiment has a points limit of 100. 


• You must have a minimum of three models in your Regiment. 


• You must have a maximum of 20 models in your Regiment. 


• Only one model in your Regiment may have three or more Wounds. 


• Models may take any options that are available to them, but normal restrictions still apply – for example you would still need to have ten Savage Orruks before a Big Stabba could be taken. 


• You may not take Leaders, Artillery or Behemoth models in your Regiment. 


• You may not take unit leaders (Bosses, Sergeants, Veterans and so on). 


• No model may have better than a 4+ Armour Save. 


THE REGIMENTAL CHAMPION
Every company, no matter if they are made of murderous cut-throats or honourable knights, has a Leader. The Champion knows the plan (or pretends to) and inspires his followers on to mightier deeds. You may choose any model from your Regiment to be your Champion. 

Your Champion gains the following Ability: 

With me! 
Destined to lead, your Champion plunges into the fray. Your Champion, and all friendly models within 3”, may re-roll their charge ranges. 

BATTLEPLANS 
Skirmish Play uses Pitched Battle battleplans. 

POINTS VALUES FOR INDIVIDUAL MODELS 
In order to work out how many points an individual model is for this event, simply divide the number of models in the minimum size of the unit by it’s given points value. 

For example, a unit of 10 Skaven Clanrats is worth 60 Points. 

This means 1 Clanrat is worth 6 Points.


If there is a remainder, then simply round down. 

EXAMPLE REGIMENTS OF RENOWN 

SYLVANETH 
Spite Revenant 20
Tree Revenant 20
5 Dryads 60

STORMCAST ETERNALS
Decimator 40
Judicator 32
Liberator 20

FLESH-EATER COURTS
Crypt Horror 46
5 Crypt Ghouls 50

BONESPLITTAZ 
Savage Boarboy 24
3 Savage Orruks Morboyz 36
2 Savage Orruks 20
2 Savage Orruks Arrowboys 20

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Unit size benefits in Age of Sigmar

In Age of Sigmar you have a great mix of Warscrolls which can be almost any size you desire, in Matched Play this is somewhat limited but large thirty to sixty man units are still available for some factions. On the other end of the scale most units are three to ten models for a minimum. In this post I'm going to list the pros and cons of small and large model count units, for the sake of this exercise imagine a unit of thirty models vs three units of ten models. 


Multiple Small Units

• If you split a unit up you now have a leader per unit which in our example is three compared to one. As leaders of units always have a small buff this can amount to a noticeable effect over a whole army. 

• In the same light as leaders, small units also have access to more Banners or Icons, which in general won't make much difference to being in one large unit except in the case where they have a unique ability such as the Hellstriders of Slaanesh Enrapturing Banner. 

• When charging multiple small units you have more chances to succeed with at least one or more of your units when compared to one. This is an affect of dice variance. Essentially you have a more reliable chance of getting models in to combat however it may not be all that you want, compare to charging a single large unit which either makes the charge or does not. 

• Multiple small units really limit the maximum amount of models that can be killed by any one unit. A war machine shooting with 2d6 mortal wounds is much more effective against a unit of ten or more compared to a unit of five for example. 

• Depending on the scenario objective you may need a larger amount of capturing units. If you only have one large unit you can only capture one objective where three smaller ones can obviously capture three, if available. 

• You can be more disposable with multiple units as they aren't worth as much. Using a small unit of five as roadblocks is much better than losing a larger unit. 


Single Large Units. 

• Units gain a bonus to their Bravery for every ten models, which can be quite important for the survivability of weaker units. Remember though, this bonus is only in the Battleshock Phase so won't protect you against abilities used in other phases(Thank Bravery One for that one). 

• Most of the weaker units have a bonus the more multiples of ten they have, often a to hit, to wound or attack bonus which can make these seemingly weak units very dangerous, especially when combined with other buffs. 

• An obvious benefit or the larger unit is their resilience in numbers, more wounds need to be taken before that signs unit is wiped out which can be useful for holding enemy units in place. 

• The area of control of larger units can be useful as you can stretch out in a thin line formation to ensure contact with the enemy and then pile in around them. Multiple smaller units could easily be destroyed and moved through in one round of combat. 

In summary there are uses for many different unit sizes and likely many more than what I've suggested, you just have to figure out the role your unit is going to play in the battle and adjust its size to optimise. 

Friday, 8 July 2016

Age of Sigmar Matched Play

With the General's Handbook soon to be released I have put some points together on Matched Play an the associated army building rules.  I won't go too much in to detail about the exact rules as most people have either seen the leaks or have access to a shop copy. 

Rule additions:

• Rules of one. These essentially serve as a limiter, they restrict the army builds that can capitalise on spell spamming, hit/wound/save buffs and infinite attack loop exploit. 

• Behemoth cover. Monsters can no longer benefit from cover saves, which certainly helps against the more powerful Heroes (although most didn't fit in to cover anyway) but weakens the smaller behemoth models that don't have much protection anyway. 

• Reinforcements. As part of your deployment you may now choose to hold back an amount of points during deployment to later reinforce your army. This is by any means such as, summoning or abilities which bring on extra units. Abilities which add models to a unit do not come under this rule. 


List building:

Possibly the biggest shake up to the game so far, this drastically alters how you select your army. Having played around with this it seems to be fairly unrestricted unless you you want to stick to a certain faction and seems to generate some good armies which should be balanced for the most part. 

• Leaders. There is a minimum of one per army and a maximum depending on size. These are the main units which can change the character of your army as you now have Command Traits, Battle Traits and multiple types of Artefacts for different Heroes. Some of which can really synergise with your army. Special characters however may not take any of these abilities but may use the faction spell lore if available, which seems fitting. Another important point to note is that you may take an additional Artefact for a hero for each Battalion Warscroll in your army list, this makes the cheaper Battalions quite viable just to get an extra Artefact. 

• Battleline. You must have an amount of Battleline units in your army depending on the size of the game, certain units may be unlocked to become Battleline if your army list meets certain conditions. This will be the main choice for your army selection as it's essentially a decision between better Battleline units and unique faction abilities or wider variety of units and alliance abilities. And then another choice of taking minimum sized Battleline units to meet the criteria or instead building your army around them. 

• Behemoth/Artillery. Both have a maximum depending on the size of the battle although this is not too restrictive for the most part. 


Tournament wise this will eventually lead to mostly armies themed to one faction to get the better Battleline units and unique faction abilities. However the good thing is it doesn't limit anyone from taking a multi faction list if they desire and get their own abilities to use. 

With tournaments the list submission will dictate how these rules play out. If you have to submit a whole 2000 point list then your units which may be summoned are restricted to what is in that list. What if someone wants to have a different amount of reinforcement points each game? Do they need to submit a list for each? It may even come to a point where list submission is no longer required.

Importantly with these rules, the units you bring on as reinforcements don't have to conform to your list building restrictions, so you may summon units from outside of your faction if able to do so, such as Nurgle Rotbringers summoning Plague Drones for example. Or you may summon another Behemoth even if your original list was at its maximum. This increases the options in list building quite substantially and is a good thing in my opinion. 

One great thing for both casual and tournament Matched play is that people with a small amount of models can play someone with a larger force without having to limit the size of both armies. So if the tournament is 2000 points and you have only 1200 ready, you can still turn up and then summon your dead units back from your reinforcement points. This can be great for those who only wish to test the water with a small force or are very slow at painting! 

These are my initial thoughts on Matched Play, I'm sure I'll have a lot more in the future especially on the list building side of things. I

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Flying stands in Age Of Sigmar

As it seems to be a hot topic at the moment I thought a I'd do a quick blog post about flying stands. I'm of the opinion that it always part of the design to make certain models unreachable within the Age of Sigmar rules set, remembering that bases aren't part of the the model unless house ruled. 

Essentially any model on a flying stand can potentially be protected by the fact that a model cannot come within 1/2" to complete a charge. Or if it does end up in combat it is out of weapon range. 

The reasoning behind this is directly from the main rules (bases and charging) and also confirmed by the Terradon Rider's swooping dive rule, which otherwise is useless. 

When bases are house ruled in, this doesn't work and actually changes how effective a unit may be and whether it's worth using for its points as it may have been pointed with the fact that it's not chargeable in mind(although I doubt this would make much difference in reality). 


So considering this I have come up with a few areas where these units can be effective: 

• They can be used to attack large monsters without being bothered by smaller units within the same combat. For example, your Terradon Riders attacking a Gargant but immune to the attacks of nearby Grots. 

• They can be used to block movement of units without being able to be charged. You can place your flying unit in a way so units have to move around you as they could not come within 3" during movement unless they charged, which isn't possible. 

• Hold objectives without being charged. Fairly self explanatory, although worth double checking the wording of the scenario to make sure. 

• They can attack units on higher terrain pieces that may have no more room for troops. If for example a unit is fully occupying all levels of a Dreadstone Blight there's only a small gap for foot troops to attack, however your flying units can attack those models on the higher levels without entering the scenery itself. 

I hope this post has opened your eyes to how to use your units on flying stands more effectively in casual games. Just remember that they're still susceptible to to ranged attacks and magic so they're not invulnerable! 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Age of Sigmar Army Toolbox

In many styles of play with Age Of Sigmar you will not have an army list that you would with most other traditional tabletop war games, instead you will likely have either a box of models ready to deploy anything you like or a pool based list where you will deploy only a portion of your selected army. In this blog post I'll mostly be considering the latter however many points still apply to the more open gaming styles. 

In a pool based list such as SCGT you will have a 150 point list and deploy up to 100, with some available for summoning. It is important to have available multiple types of unit which can be deployed to best react to the current situation. For example, if your opponent deploys the Sons of Behemat Formation with five Giants, you will likely want to deploy something specific to oppose this huge threat. 


Essential tools for your army list:

Objective claimer. Fairly self explanatory tool which can encompass many different types of unit. It's likely you will have some idea of the scenario you are about to play, or may even know it well if you're at a tournament and had a chance to have played it beforehand. 

So you must include units in your list which can complete the objective required. For example, if you need a unit with the Monster keyword to capture an objective you must have one in your list if you want to win!

Other examples are having a tough unit/s if you're required to defend an objective rather than glass cannons. Or having a unit with the Priest keyword to make the most of a special scenario rule. 

Teleport/fast unit. In Age of Sigmar movement is imperative, having a unit which can immediately react to a situation in game can be the difference between a win and a loss. Make sure to have a unit that is either flying and/or fast, or a unit that has a special deployment such as the Stormcast deploying from the Celestial Realm. This really can be important mid battle if the battle switches sides and your units can't reach an objective in time.

Hard counter. Sometimes the only option to a situation is to put down your biggest and toughest unit, something like Gordrakk, Archaon or The Glottkin. This can be a psychological counter as well as a hard counter and can influence your opponent to deploy something he may otherwise wouldn't. 

Soft counter. Polar opposite to the Hard Counter you may be playing in a much friendlier game, against a new player or at Warhammer World where best opponent votes really matter. In this case it is worth having a unit or two you can deploy that will mute the power of your army a bit, something subpar but characterful that will ensure a good game for both players.  

Ranged. Simple tool to add but many might forget when theming their list. A ranged unit can be prefect to take out a fast avoidance unit or a powerful unit your don't want to charge you. 

Charger. Either a first turn charge or a reliable long charge can be a great defensive tool to block units which have abilities that only work on the charge like Godrakk or anything with a lance. This also works great against monsters as they worsen with the more wounds taken. 

Modifier. A unit which can affect another unit with -1 to hit/wound/save. This tool is specific to oppose certain units which have abilities that only work on the roll of a 6 in game such as the Executioners, Paladins, Trolls etc. The -1 will nullify that ability completely. 

This can also be used defensively with a positive modifier to protect against your opponent using the above or to enhance an already powerful unit. 


In summary, there are many types of unit you will want to make available to you I deployment, more than you will likely be able to take. Therefor it's important to prioritise what units are important for the game or tournament yo are attending. 

Friday, 20 May 2016

Unit Coherency In Age Of Sigmar

In Age of Sigmar movement and synergy are paramount, having your offensive units within range to be augmented by your buffers and defensive units in terrain and ready to benefit from Mystic Shield will be the difference between winning and losing the combat and potentially the game. 

Therefore a good tactician must keep his army in check whilst simultaneously forcing the opponent out of position and thus unable to maximise the benifit of their synergies. "How is this done Mr Tzeentch?" you might ask. I may or may not have all the answers to give you, but I will certainly place some thoughts in your mind, this is the way of the Lord of Change and his servants.


The first thing to consider is what I will call the coherency range. This is essentially how the buffer and buffees(not a real word) must operate on the battlefield.

• Is there one main buffer with a bubble effect?
• Do multiple units buff each other?
• Is there one main buffee unit with multiple buffers?
• In any of the above cases, what is the maximum range of the buff?
• What is the range of movement within this group?

These questions should help you understand both your and your opponent's synergies and how they should be used effectively. This also helps protect your plans so you don't overextend from your coherency range. I'll go over each question in detail:

Is there one main buffer with a bubble effect?
In this case the coherency range is simply the range of the buffer, all units must stay within this range. The tactics will likely be to destroy or protect this one character depending which side you're on. 

Do multiple units buff each other?
In this case the coherency range is the unit with the shortest buff range, however with many similar units this could be extended in to long chains of buffing units. In this case the best tactic is to focus on one unit, preferably one that would break the buffing chain(the middle one). Defensively you would want to stop this happening by having a backup unit which can plug the gap after retreating a weakend unit out of harms way. 

Is there one main buffee unit with multiple buffers?
Otherwise known as the "Deathstar" unit. Multiple Heroes are used to buff one large unit to legendary proportion, all eggs one basket. This can potentially be shielding the buffers within the unit or they can be placed behind if their buffs have enough range. 

The obvious tactic here is to remove the cause of the buff, which can be easier said than done. If they are behind the lines then use special deployment units to charge them unexpectingly. If within the target unit you can use powerful ranged spells or war machines, or charge the main unit with something with high attack range(3" ideally) which can reach the buffer. 

Fyreslayers specifically can be good at this as they all have short range throwing axes to hit the buffers in or behind the unit. 

In any of the above cases, what is the maximum range of the buff?
In Age of Sigmar a large amount of the synergies, particularly the more powerful ones have short ranges. In the Freeguild Regiment Formation for example your units must be within 6" of another unit from the formation and within 10" of the Hero to maximise the benifit of the buffs creating a small footprint. In this case you want to kill the hero with ranged attacks and split the individual units apart by charging both flanks and force the enemy to pile in toward you. 

Defensively you need to recognise if your opponent is trying to split your units up and either retreat in to a better position, or refuse to pile in further than required. Longer ranged weapons such as spears help this. Also keep the hero buffer in real Line of Sight cover, most buffs don't need LoS. 

What is the range of movement within this group?
This makes a huge difference to how the buffs are used. If the unit being buffed has low movement(4-5" infantry) then I can be entirely possible to avoid that unit and concentrate somewhere else. 

If the unit has high movement you can attempt to lure them out of range from their buffs with juicy targets. 


In summary the tactics are fairly simple although in the heat of battle it can be a struggle to keep your troops in line. Figure out your coherency range and keep your units in range of the buffers and keep them safe, all the while find the weak point in your opponent's formation and focus on it, don't waste time hitting the hard buffed units unless you have to. 

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Thursday, 21 April 2016

List building with pools

Pool based list design has become quite popular with Age of Sigmar, especially in the UK with Clash and SCGT being used at many tournaments. 

The basic idea is that your total army is composed of units which are assigned a pool value and you then deploy a portion of your army as normal in the game until you reach the decided amount. With SCGT for example you have 150 total army pool points but only a maximum of 100 is to be deployed for the battle. 

There are some unique considerations with designing an army list in this way compared to a more traditional approach:

Deployed force - Although you have a larger pool selection to select, you must remember that you only deploy a portion of your total army. You must design your list with the deployed amount I mind. 

Battleplans - Most tournaments or even individual games with Age of Sigmar have unique deployment, objectives and rules. Each Battleplan you may play must be considered when designing your list. 

Synergy - Although you could just pick units you like, it's best to have a wide selection of warscrolls in your total army so you can react to your opponent efficiently in deployment. Additionally, you don't want more of one particular Warscroll than what you're likely to deploy in one game. Why have 60 Freeguild guard if you are only expecting to ever deploy 30?!

Awards - Not gaming related but still important. You don't have to take the full amount of pools, just the amount required for the deployed force. If you have to fill your full army up with random, less well painted units you may miss out on painting points or a chance of best painted awards. 

Sportsmanship - Also not really gaming related, but it's a good idea to have the choice of taking a softer or harder list depending on what your opponent deploys. If they have a fluffy and not so competitive army and you only have the hardest, toughest face smashing list you could design then you'll likely lose out on some sportsmanship points. 


To summarise with some practical tips:

• Build a deployed force list for each Battleplan your are going to play then take any units which are the same across all the lists and add them to your full army. Now add remaining units from each list as best you can to optimise for each Battleplan. 
• Consider the summoning rules for your games and amend your list if your require. 
• Refine your list enduring you don't have redundant units that you wouldn't use. 
• Consider changing your list to reflect the style of play you want and any sports or painting points you may be able to claim. 

By no means a perfect way of designing a list for Age of Sigmar but hopefully this will give you something to think about when designing your lists for future pool based games.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Movement in AoS

Something that's often considered a problem with Age of Sigmar is the three separate movement mechanics: the Move, Charge and Pile In. The issue being that each of the three steps of the movement is separate so you have to move your models repeatedly in the same turn, even more so at larger game sizes. However as usual it's no where near as much of a problem as it's made out to be. 


The simple fact of the matter is that you are not doing this every turn, for the majority of units the first one or two turns will be just moving(Run move isn't separate as it adds to your move value). Then in the middle game the unit will likely charge (if not charged itself) which if successful will lead to a Pile in move. 

For subsequent turns whilst in combat the unit will probably have a few pile in moves(which normally is only a portion of the unit moving) or it will retreat from combat. If the unit survives combat it may have a chance for a second charge or third charge during the remainder of the game. But often I have seen that a unit will have about one or two combats on average. 

So in all likelihood, only a portion of your units will requires one maybe two moves of this size per game. Non combat units such as war machines, Wizards, ranged units will likely have no charge moves and I would expect half your combat units to be charged by the enemy so they don't actually conduct a charge move.


Even in larger games with larger units, the amount of three-move phases you have won't be much different as combats will likely last longer and due to the larger amount of models. 

Personally I love the new move mechanics in Age of Sigmar, I find it gives combats a unique flow and realism when compared to the ranked block combats of previous editions of Warhammer. It also allows for some interesting tactics and formations that previously were just not possible.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Meta affect of Terrain

If a lower amount of terrain is used on your table, or if terrain rules are not used, then units may become more or less powerful than they were designed to be. 

Wizards and Priests have many extra benefits from terrain. Often giving a bonus to cast or unbind, extra summoning ability or powerful spells unique to terrain. Other terrain pieces can hugely benefit characters with healing or unique abilities, the Magewrath Throne for example can be literally game changing. 


Ranged attacks suffer from increased terrain due to line of sight rules and in the same light, so do lightly armoured units and heroes benefit who would otherwise suffer worst from those ranged attacks. 

So for example, if ranged units are highly pointed because not enough terrain has been used during play tests allowing them to rain down arrows with impunity, the Meta has been changed by the lack of terrain. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, you should have 8 pieces of terrain on the table on average and each of these should either use the terrain Warscroll it represents or roll on the scenery table. 

Now this is quite a subjective topic which is not easy to determine the true differences and whether it makes an impactful change. But a good example is Clash Comp, which specifically does not use the Terrain Warscrolls, so you must assume the pool system is biased towards terrain having low impact on the units in games. 


In summary, terrain influences different units in different ways, depending on what system you use to select armies some units will be more or less valued depending on the amount of terrain that system was play tested with compared to how much terrain you use. 

In the end, the Terrain Warscrolls are fun and create more synergy. If you aren't using terrain, you aren't making the most of Age of Sigmar. 

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Faction Synergies

There are a few units throughout the Warscrolls which have synergies not solely within their own factions. Though not as many as first thought, and nothing I can see as being game breaking. 


The main areas of synergy are Brettonians and The Empire with the Free People keyword, Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings with the Death keyword, Chaos warriors and Daemons with Bloodbound through the Khorne Keyword and finally Chaos warriors and Daemons with Skaven with the Nurgle keyword. 

There are a few other odd occasions where units can affect other factions with generic keywords like War Machine and Monster, but not very many. 

One thing I haven't included in this post is units with abilities that affect unit with no keyword requirement. I plan to go through and update this post with a separate list. 

Below is a list of units with external synergies:

Order

• Karl Franz and Kurt Helborg, King Louen, Fay enchantress and Damsel of the lady buff free people. 

• Empire Greatswords and Knights of the Realm are buffed by a nearby free people hero. 

• War altar and Celestial hurricanum buff free people. 

• Luminark of Hysh buffs order wizards and free people. 

• Dwarf engineer and Grim Burlocksson can repair any war machine. 

• Dwarf Thane BSB has a negative synergy with all friendly wizards. 

• Prince Imrik's command ability affects all dragons.

• Dark Elf Beastmaster buffs any monster.

• Seraphon, Wood elves, Stormcast Eternals and Fyreslayers have no external synergies.  

Chaos

• Bloodbound Bloodstoker and Bloodsecrator buff any unit with Khorne keyword. 

• The glottkin, Orghots Daemonspew, Putrid Blightkings, The Great Unclean One's plague wind and Epidemius' Nurgles Tallyman affects all Nurgle. 

• Vermin Lord corruptor, Lord skrolk, Plague priest, Plague furnace, Plague monks, Plague censer bearers and the Plagueclaw catapult all have the Nurgle keyword and can be affected by the above Nurgle units. 

• The changeling and the Blue Scribes gains spells from any wizard. 

• Great bray shaman summon any monster from any faction or grand alliance! This includes heroes with the monster keyword. 

• Tamurkhan's command ability affects all monsters.

• Chaos war mammoth buffs marauders and marauder horsemen. 

• Throgg buffs all chaos monsters. 

• Chaos Familiars buff all chaos wizards. 

• Legion of Azgorh have no external synergies. 

Destruction

• Ogre Kingdom and Orcs & Goblins have no external synergies. O&G have especially segregated internal synergy between the individual factions. 

Death

• All death wizards can summon all death units. 

• Settra buffs Death units and Deathrattle.

• Necrotect and the Royal Warsphinx buffs deathrattle. 

• Tomb herald buffs Deathrattle and is a wound shield for any death hero. 

• Liche priest spell affects skeletons or reainimants.

• Khalida, Krell and Tomb Kings buff skeletons. 

• Skeleton warriors buffed by death hero. 

• Nagash buffs death and gains all spells from any death wizards. 

• Manfred Mortarch, Vlad, Vampire Lord, Mortis Engine, Wight King, Zombie Dragon and Heinrich buff death. 

• Necromancer is buffed by nearby death units and their spell affect skeletons. 

• Corpse cart and Arkhan buff death wizards. 

• Skeleton warriors buffed by death heroes.

• Vargulf and the Black Coach buffed by death wizards.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Damage Allocation

An interesting topic was posted on the Age of Sigmar Facebook group today which prompted this post. After playing many games against differing opponents in friendly play and in tournaments, and seeing it mentioned a few times, I have noticed that damage allocation has been wrongly interpreted. 


The questionable rule excerpt: 


The key points here are:
"After all of the attacks made by a unit have been carried out" and "you must keep on allocating wounds to that model until either it is slain, or no more wounds remain to be allocated."

For the most part, it has been played that damage must be allocated to the same model until it has been slain, no matter the source. 

Rules as written, you must only allocate wounds to a model for each desperate unit that attacks. For each separate attacking unit, damage may be allocated to a different model of the player wishes as there is no rule saying he cannot. 

I believe this to also be rules as intended as it seems to make realistic sense, although the potential downside is that you have more wounds to keep track of. 

To add evidence to support this, here are abilities from a few Warscrolls that work read exactly as if it should be played this way:

Lord Castellant

Nurglings

Blood Knights

Trolls

Skaarac the Bloodbound

Monday, 1 February 2016

Double turn tactics

The random determination of who takes the turn is an issue widely raised by all whether they like Age of Sigmar on not. In reality, it's not as powerful as it's made out to be, as long as you're prepared.

The main benefit of a double turn is the additional movement, however the most extra damage will be from shooting and magic. If you lack both of these in your army, or fail to use them you are probably wasting your double turn. 

There is only a minor benefit in combat due to the fact that both sides fight in the combat phase. This means that additional charges are how you make the most of your double turn. If no additional charges can be made then you have limited the benefit of your double turn. 

You know the double turn is coming from the start of the game, depending on scenario or deployment. There is a chance, although unlikely, that there will be no double turn in your game however the odds are that you will both have one double turn each game. 


You need to plan for this with your army, depending on which side has the advantage. If you have the potential double turn coming up you need to position units so they can make the most of it:

• Units should be moved to be able to support another unit with a charge or shooting. 
• Make sure your characters will be in range with their buffs if your unit ends up charging in your double turn.
• Ensure you don't overextend, it's not guaranteed. 

If your opponent has the potential for a double turn, you need to act more defensively:
• Keep units close so they can't be unexpectedly charged on one unit without being within 3" of another. 
• Ensure your ranged units, spell casters and buffing units are not exposed and are protected. 

One thing I have rarely seen is not taking a double turn. If you are not in a good position to make the most of it(limited shooting, magic or additional charges), then you can let your opponent take their turn in sequence and you can prepare properly in later turns. Otherwise you're giving the enemy the double turn advantage with little benefit. 

The art of playing Age of Sigmar is making the most of each turn as it comes, being able to exploit your double turn whilst protecting against your opponents is how to master the game. 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Composition comparisons

EDIT: This post will be updated with analysis of SCGT pack. 

I like Age of Sigmar, but using the amount of models as a mechanic for victory conditions or deciding sudden death only works when both players are building their armies with a similar mind set. This is why there have been multiple comp systems developed, all of which have pros and cons:

Comp by Models: Simple and quick to set up, but very easily unbalanced whether accidentally or intentionally.

Comp by Wounds: Also simple and almost as quick, but can be still be unbalanced. However, unless you specifically attempt to build an unbalanced army, it is a valid method.

Comp by Points: Similar to Warhammer Fantasy list design, which brings familiarity. It takes in to account all aspects of the model, and usually aided by a math formula. However the values given can be subjective to the type of game or tournament the system is originally designed for.

Comp by SDK points: Also similar to Warhammer Fantasy in appearance, it uses a math formula to return a point value for each model, which is weighted in some areas.  The formula represents offensive and defensive ability of the unit with some modifiers for keywords. It doesn't allow for command abilities, external abilities to the unit or varying levels of wizard power and there is also no cost for Warscroll Battalions. It does have the benefit of www.Scrollbuilder.com as an online list building tool.

Comp by Pools: Each Warscroll and Warscroll Battalion is assigned a value which is routinely adjusted by a community effort as a result of feedback from tournaments and online. It allows for a unique approach to list design for Warhammer and opens up more possibilities for comp packs. The balance should increase over time and there is the possibility to weight in certain areas to keep the meta changing. Also has the benefit of www.Scrollbuilder.com as an online list building tool.


Recently I have compiled a spreadsheet to compare different comp packs and see where they are weighted and whether they are relatively balanced. The chart below shows the deviation between armies when comparing SDK, UK Pool and Wounds, displayed as a relative percentage above or below the average. The SDK/Pool column data is found by taking the average of all Warscrolls maximum SDK cost divided by current Pool cost. The Wounds column shows the same but also divided by wounds.
SDK/Pool Wounds
Beastmen 93.68% 97.24%
Bretonnia 94.69% 89.76%
Daemons of Chaos 107.93% 104.72%
Dark Elves 101.82% 104.72%
Dwarfs 96.73% 112.20%
Fyreslayers 104.88% 119.69%
High Elves 95.71% 97.24%
Legion of Azgorh 116.08% 119.69%
Seraphon 89.60% 89.76%
Ogre Kingdoms 97.75% 82.28%
Orcs & Goblins 92.66% 97.24%
Skaven 85.53% 97.24%
Stormcast Eternals 109.97% 119.69%
Tamurkhans horde 103.86% 67.32%
The Empire 90.62% 89.76%
Tomb Kings 91.64% 82.28%
Vampire Counts 108.95% 104.72%
Warriors of Chaos 104.88% 97.24%
Wood Elves 113.02% 127.17%

This presents us with a relative power level between each army when using Pool or Wounds as a comp system. Both are similar, with a few outliers but generally are within a reasonable range. The individual army entries have extremes of units on both ends, but not to a game breaking level.

From my analysis I have been able to see which comp system favours which areas:

Wounds: Heroes, Monsters, High Wound Per Model Warscrolls in general.
SDK: Wizards, Buffing Heroes, everything else is mixed.
UK Pool: Infantry, Cavalry, Heroes, MonstersAn interesting point to note is that the average Pool and SDK ratio of all armies is 1:98. So a 20 pool army is roughly equivalent to a 2000 SDK point army.  
Summary
Each comp system is fairly similar. Each army has comparatively weak and comparatively powerful units in each type of comp but the average over the entire armies aren't too dissimilar from each other, probably no more than Warhammer Fantasy was.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Scenarios in the free rules

One thing I've noticed that's regularly said around forums is that Age of Sigmar has no scenarios without purchasing a Battleplan in the app or a hardback book. This is touted as being a major flaw in the rules and that all battles end up as a pitched fight in the middle of the board because of this apparent lack. 

This is just plain wrong. 


Firstly, ensure you're using a reasonable amount of terrain. Following the basic rules you'll get eight terrain pieces on the board on average. (Remember this shouldn't include hills, as games-workshop intends that you play on a Realm of Battle Board). Use the Scenery Warscroll for each piece or roll on the Mysterious Terrain table if using homemade. This alone should help break up a battle by creating choke points, defendable positions and other areas of tactical interest. 


Secondly, you have Sudden Death Victories. When playing by the basic rules you should always aim for one player to have a sudden death objective. These are your scenarios. Importantly, this is decided after scenery is placed and deployment, so when placing terrain and units you should have an idea which objective you would choose if the chance arises.

A brief comparrison of basic Age of Sigmar with the Warhammer Fantasy 8th scenarios:

Non Sudden Death: Similar to Battleline. Battle of two roughly equal sized armies. 

Assassinate/Blunt: Similar to Blood and Glory. Use an aggressive army and force the opponent to protect a unit. 

Endure: Similar to Watchtower. Take up a defensive position and force the enemy to come to you. 

Seize Ground: Similar to Watchtower. Reinforce the objective and hold off the enemy in a glorious last stand. 

In addition:

Table Split: You may now split the table in half any way you like. This creates scenarios similar to Battle for the Pass and Meeting Engagement. 

Combinations: The table split can be done in addition to the above Sudden Death Objectives to create even more variation.  

So as you can see, Age of Sigmar has scenarios built in to the basic rules, at least five variations, not including combinations. It all depends on the armies you deploy. 

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Why Age of Sigmar is a good war game

War Game
noun
A military exercise carried out to test or improve tactical expertise.




The statement above is the dictionary version of a war game. In my experience a good test of tactical expertise must include the following:

• Expectation of unexpected circumstances
• Anticipation of the enemy
• Decision making ability 
• Ideally optimal reaction to the current situation

Each of these can be shown in Age of Sigmar quite easily and I will outline below. You may think that all tabletop games will have this but I don't believe any do quite as much as Age of Sigmar. 

Expectation of unexpected circumstances

Age of Sigmar is fairly unique, at least in the modern age of tabletop war gaming, in that you may bring any army of any size you wish to the game with no prior list design required. This creates a huge level of unexpectedness to each game. 

With Warhammer Fantasy and most other war games, you would likely know what army your opponent would bring and could have a good guess as to the type of list they would use. This was mainly due to unbalanced point costs, the prevalence of the Netlist and comp systems which were biased towards certain areas. 

Age of Sigmar essentially eliminates that (even when using a Pool system to build an army to some extent). During deployment you have to learn to expect the unexpected while reacting to your opponents Warscroll deployments.

Anticipation of the enemy

Now this is something that you will have to do in any war game, however this is more so with Age of Sigmar due to the turn mechanic. You have to anticipate your enemy's next turn whilst simultaneously planning for a double turn swing, this is not an easy tactic to master as I have found out. 

The double turn is possibly part of the game that is subtle in it's tactical use. A novice player will hope for the double turn so they can get extra attacks in where possible. An expert player will have deliberately set up his units to make optimal use of the extra turn. 

There is a lot to talk about on this subject which I will broach in a future post. 

Decision making ability 

From my experience with previous editions of Warhammer Fantasy, decision making was mostly done at the deployment phase with little that could be changed once the battle was underway (with a few exceptions of course). Movement was very limited in ranks and flanks and charge reactions weren't really much of a decision. 

In Age of Sigmar you have a constant barrage of decisions to make: what unit to deploy, which command abilities to use, to charge, to retreat, to summon reinforcements... 

Warscrolls in Age of Sigmar have a wide range of abilities which can hugely change a situation immediately, this really was not the case in Warhammer fantasy.  

Ideally optimal reaction to the current situation

This relates to all of the three points above, you are only as good as what you can do right now. In real life, a battle is a unique and organic situation which is ever changing, you can only do what you believe to be optimal at that time. 

This is probably the most important part to being a great tactician in any aspect of life and Age of Sigmar emulates this exceptionally well when compared to the traditional war game model. 

In summary

Age of Sigmar ticks all the boxes when it comes to testing or improving tactical expertise. You don't always know what you will face, or how big a force that may be, and you certainly can't rely on the situation remaining in your favour for very long. 

This is how it works in real life, and also how it works in Age of Sigmar.